Bitten By Productions is back with their second show for 2017, a new take on the character of Dracula in Dracula: Last Voyage of the Demeter. We spoke to first time play writer Sean Carney and writer of this show about what makes this different from the Dracula we know, writing about horror and working with Bitten by Productions.
“The story of Dracula has been told so many times before. He’s featured in over one hundred films, as well as thousands of other stories. I suppose what intrigued me was approaching the character from an angle that wasn’t an origin story, and one that while taking part within the story written by Bram Stoker, was very much my own interpretation of the character,” says Carney on the journey to creating the play.
“The idea came about through an original movie pitch that I presented for the Sanspants Radio podcast show Movie Maintenance. My approach was how I would tell a compelling Dracula story on-screen, though when I pitched the idea to my colleague Gabriel Bergmoser, he immediately thought it would make for an interesting play,” he said.
“I’ve always been very intrigued by him as a character. He’s essentially this cursed immortal creature, doomed to live throughout time while everyone he loves gets taken from him or is left behind. So when he speaks of his hatred for men, and things he has lost I find myself almost barracking for him to win,” he said.
“That’s what compelled me to write the story, the chance to explore Dracula in more depth, and probably to show that there isn’t always such a clear cut line between who is good and who is evil.”
The show is set on a boat, on a journey from Eastern Europe to London, and this setting is not much explored in popular culture.
“I was fascinated by exploring the very small section of the book that covered his journey, where we see this from the point of view of the captain in his logbook. I’ve expanded on that time period and essentially created my own version of events,” he said.
“My version has the vampire captured from the outset and his time on the ship is spent entirely inside a cage. All the while crew members are still dying brutally, but it becomes more of a mystery. Who’s killing them? Is it Dracula leaving his cage, or is a member of the crew going mad?”
“It’s a wonderful thing to watch the corrosive effect Dracula’s presence can have on others. There’s a really claustrophobic factor to this story where you have characters sailing across the ocean and they can’t leave, but they’re in the same vicinity as a monster. Thematically, it’s about the madness of men in the face of fear, so it’s really fun to see the little ways Dracula worms inside their heads,” he said.
This is his first time writing a play as well.
“My background is in screenwriting: I have a Masters in Screenwriting from VCA, and when I’m not writing scripts and developing web-series ideas, I’m a host of the Sanspants Radio podcast show Movie Maintenance,” he said.
Fear and suspense has been built into the show, as it comes with the territory of a character like Dracula.
“The story is structured in a way that each of the characters have a one-on-one interaction with him, and we continue to learn what’s happening above deck, the tensions, the murders, the suspicions, and the conniving. It all just builds, and builds, and builds until eventually all that tension and pressure has to go somewhere,” says Carney.
“One of the most pleasing things has been to watch Gregory Caine play Dracula. He is equal measures captivating and terrifying. He’s going to some very rewarding places with this character.”
Horror is a genre Carney has generally steered clear of though, as he has for most of his life.
“Writing horror feels like a fresh palette for me. I’m not really burdened by trying overly hard to be original, because I haven’t seen the vast majority of things people might think I’m drawing inspiration from. I see it as a challenge. The starting point is to just think about what frightens me (almost everything) and then try and develop characters that deal with situations in real and relatable ways” he said.
“Our director, Ashley Tardy, has put in a staggering amount of work from the outset,dragging everyone else along with her enthusiasm. Ash absolutely loves horror and the concept really grabbed her from the outset, and she’s just had a ball shaping this world and the characters,” he said, on working with the production team.
“The cast have been generous, collaborative, and incredible to watch. The Bitten By Productions team have really rallied together to put on a great show, which has been really pleasing,” said Carney.
Don’t miss this opportunity to see Dracula in a way you’ll never have seen before, in Dracula: Last Voyage of the Demeter at Club Voltaire from 13 until 22 April.
Tickets at https://www.trybooking.com/book/event?eid=265879.